November 5, 2002 Matthew

Jewish Feast

November has finally rolled around. I’ve been exposed to a lot in the last few days. Last Friday evening I had the rare opportunity to attend a Shabbat feast with the Jews along with Andre, a DTS student from Brazil.
It was a fiasco. The rabbis apartment accommodates about 80 people for the feast, but about 120+ showed up. More tables and chairs were crammed inside. Soon the rabbi was isolated in the middle of the room with no where to move. It was loud and the rabbi found it difficult to keep attention on himself for the next couple of hours. Food was constantly passing on all sides of me and over my head. Our table became a mess. But somehow the host family kept up and everyone was fed. The old drunk guy with a Vodka bottle hanging out of his jacket was loud and constantly interrupting. They tried to keep him under control in the kitchen with little success. Why did they let him in? I do not know. Some Jewish guys at our table were being loud and obnoxious. Afterwards, as we left we noticed a couple tables were placed just outside the front door. It was quite a night. But it didn’t end there…

With stomachs full of chicken, bread, salad, and cake, we walked to another part of the Jewish neighborhood to a Torah reading/singing meeting for youth. It was a large building in which only males were allowed to enter. The majority of the attendees were orthodox Jews wearing gold-colored robes, large round Russian-style hats, black shoes and black or white socks. They all had long curly side-burns and let their beards grow out. They stood on bleachers beset around in a great room; in the middle, there sat the elder Jews and rabbis at long tables, directing the reading and singing. There were hundreds of Jews gathered and singing together. The sound was indescribable, but it was loud and filled the room. Heads bobbed like a jack-in-the-box back and forth, back and forth. We stuck out pretty good with our simple little kippahs on our heads. It was tragic how empty and godless their ‘worship’ was.

In a translated Jewish prayer book that I read at the feast it said in many places: “…God who has made us holy by his commandments.”